an excerpt from CHAPTER I: THIS is the story of a House, a house which was born in more spacious days, and sat placidly for many years like a white bird in a green nest, a house that suffered one war and grievous sorrow, and survived to suffer in yet another war. Its history is human history, as a house's history should be, if it has strength and breadth, beauty and dignity. Many such houses are doomed to die. Some will survive to live strange, new lives, for the new rhythm like jazz music is not of the age that created them. To me old houses are alive; they are persons, impregnated with the memories of those who have dwelt in them, old farmhouses, old cottages, old mansions. They are not mere boxes of brick, hygienic but hideous, in which people seem to live like hens in a "Battery." My prejudices, if they can be called prejudices, are those of an old man, and to the young the old can be boring. I understand that to some of the young we are known as "Bumbles." Well, this is the book of a Bumble. Beech Hill was built by my great grandfather in the year of Waterloo, a white and spacious house, always suggesting to me that if Nash had designed country houses this might have been one of them. It stands on the lower slope of a hill, facing south-east, and looking over its high blue railings at a pool walled with local stone, a great wreath of rhododendrons, and a steep green valley rising to the splendid beeches of Beechhanger Wood. A country road from Framley Green to Roman Heath runs between the railings and the pool, a quiet road not well known to week-end motorists. All about the place the ground rises steeply, green fields and woodland, yet the house catches all the sunlight. It stands on a gentle slope, with the great white pillars of its portico-porch set solidly and almost defiantly in massive paving. A semi-circular drive linked two fine iron gates, but they went to the war, poor dears, like the iron railings. My earliest recollections are of those two great white portico pillars, and of my father standing there after breakfast and saying good morning to the beech trees on the hill. I remember swarming up one of the pillars, and sliding down with a precipitancy that left my backside sore for a week. The broad, flat paving of the portico provided a parade-ground for my lead soldiers, horse, foot and artillery. It was about the most inconvenient spot I could have chosen so far as the rest of the household were concerned, but it pleased me to see all that coloured soldiery, red, blue, green and white embattled on the old grey stones.
Used availability for Warwick Deeping's Laughing House
September 2015 : Hardback
August 2011 : USA Paperback
March 2007 : UK Paperback
September 2008 : USA, Canada, UK Kindle edition